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BreakingNew:FG closes case against Onnoghen after 3 witnesses

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Nigeria, CJN, Justice Walter Onnoghen, after it produced only three witnesses that testified before the Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT.

Suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) Justice Walter Samuel Nkanu Onnoghen Though FG initially expressed its intention to produce a total of six witnesses to substantiate all the allegations it levelled against the embattled CJN, however, shortly after the third witness was discharged, the prosecution counsel told the tribunal that it would be unnecessary to call further witnesses.

The prosecution counsel, Mr. Aliyu Umar, SAN, told the tribunal that the defendant was at liberty to summon any of the listed but uncalled witnesses to testify on his behalf if he so wished. He was immediately overruled by the CCT Chairman, Mr. Danladi Umar, even as Onnoghen’s lawyer, Chief Adegboyega Awomolo, SAN, rejected the offer.

“This is the case of the prosecution. If it feels that it is satisfied with evidence of the three witnesses, then so be it”, the CCT Chairman held. Thereafter, Awomolo told the tribunal that the CJN would in line with section 303 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, ACJA, 2015, enter a no case submission with respect to all the allegations FG levelled against him. Awomolo, therefore, applied for record of proceedings of the tribunal to enable his client to file the necessary processes.

The case was subsequently adjourned till next week Friday for hearing of the no-case application by the embattled CJN, as well as for adoption of the final written addresses. Earlier in the proceeding, the third prosecution witness, PW-3, Mr. Ifeoma Okagbue, a staff of Standard Chartered Bank in Abuja, told the tribunal that it was not true that the defendant possessed either $1million or £1million in any of the five bank accounts that necessitated the charge. Okagbue who told the tribunal that she started managing Onnoghen’s bank accounts since 2015, gave a load down of both the opening and closing balance of all the accounts from January 2018 to January 2019.

She said the accounts were all linked to one Bank Verification Code, BVN, adding that the bank had upon securing an approval from the defendant, diverted funds from the accounts into various profit yielding ventures. The PW-3 told the tribunal that profits that accrued from the investments were credited back into the accounts. While two of the accounts are in Naira, the three others were Pounds Sterling, Euro and Dollar accounts. The witness told the tribunal that all the accounts were domiciliary, and were opened and managed at the branch of the bank in Wuse 2, Abuja.

Before Mrs. Okagbue mounted the witness box, the PW-2, who is a retired Director at the Code of Conduct Bureau, CCB, Mr. Awal Yakassai, told the Mr. Umar led three-man panel that contrary to what was alleged in the media, he said the suspended CJN owned only five houses.

He said it was not true that CCB investigators linked the ownership of 55 houses to the defendant. The witness made the disclosure after he was shown copies of Justice Onnoghen’s asset declaration forms, which the Federal Government tendered in evidence before the CCT.

The embattled CJN was said to have submitted the forms marked as Exhibit 2 and 3, to the CCB in 2014 and 2016.

Answering questions under cross-examination, the PW-2, told the tribunal that he served at the CCB for 29 years before he retired in April 2018. He admitted that the CCB was yet to verify Justice Onnoghen’s assets with a view to finding out if he made false declarations. Aside allegation that he failed to declare his assets as prescribed by the law, FG had in the charge marked CCT/ABJ/01/19, FG, alleged that Onnoghen operated five foreign bank accounts, contrary to section 15(2) of Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act.

FG had insisted that it was the CCB that okayed Onnoghen’s trial based on certain infractions that were discovered in his asset declaration forms.

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SANWO-OLU REVIEWS ADMINISTRATION’S STRIDES

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Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has highlighted key components of his administration, which he said are aimed at delivering his Greater Lagos vision.

The Governor named education, security, improvement of infrastructure as well as upgrading of the environment as some of the sectors his government will invest in to achieve a greater Lagos.

Governor Sanwo-Olu made the revelation while answering questions as a guest on Channels television’s flagship programme, Sunrise Daily on Wednesday.

While enumerating the success story of his administration in the last 196 days, the Governor said a lot of achievements have been recorded in the area of security of lives and property of the residents.

The Governor said: “At a period like this – going to the end of the year, criminal activities are usually on the increase because people want to do things to make quick money. We are working on salvaging the situation. We have a new Commissioner of Police who has hit the ground running from the first day he came in.

“You heard of the unfortunate incident of an expatriate that was stabbed to death by domestic staff recently. I was up till 2am last Friday because we were tracking the suspects. The Commissioner of Police led the team and we were able to apprehend the two suspects.

“Policing and security come in two ways. It comes with intelligence.

What kind of information do you have prior to or after the event. You really don’t know who has a criminal tendency by mere looking at their faces. We must have more men out there on the streets and we must have ability to be able to respond when there is a distress call.

“That’s why we keep increasing the number of vehicles we provide for them. We keep supporting them with a lot of communication gadgets. We keep saying to them that whatever they need to be able to respond when the distress comes, which is often sudden, we’ll give to them. When we do the analysis, it will be an issue of how well we are able to track and get the perpetrators of these acts.”

The Governor reiterated his administration’s commitment to adopt technology to combat crimes and reduce them to the barest minimum.

He said: “One of the things we realise is that security is also going tech. You need a lot of technology and devices to monitor crimes, and whilst we are doing a lot of hard things, we are also building up technology. Next year, we are building a new Control and Command Center as part of our Safe City project and Mega City security deliverables. We are going to bring to Lagos all those security measures you see in developed Nations.

“At the first phase, we will install about 2,200 high definition cameras across the State. From a CCTV, we can view, review, monitor and track incidents as they happen. We will also train officials. These are some of the things that will happen in the first quarter of next year”

On the issue of the Nigerian Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), the Governor said: “The NURTW is a national body of the Nigerian Labour Congress. It is a registered trade union organization.’’

“Like other unions, they are under the supervision of the State government. We regulate and supervise them. And we have warned that they could be proscribed if they don’t conduct themselves well.

Sanwo-Olu spoke about the State government’s plans for the construction of the 4th mainland bridge, saying his administration will make use of private equity to achieve the project.

“Two weeks ago, we advertised for the expression of interest from construction firms around the world for the 4th mainland bridge project. Our total budget for next year is about $3 billion and that’s the highest in the country. The 4th mainland bridge, from the design, we have seen that it is a 37 kilometre road. We cannot handle it alone so we are going to use private equity.

‘‘We have advertised. We have the alignment, we have the right of way and all of the biometric study.  Let everyone worldwide come and play a role.

The Governor also spoke extensively on his plan for the education sector, saying the state government is determined to elevate the status of the primary education to a very competitive level

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LAGOS INVESTING IN TECHNOLOGY TO BE AFRICA’S BIGGEST INNOVATION HUB – SANWO-OLU

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Lagos State Government’s investment in technology and innovation is a deliberate effort to position the State as key player in global technology space, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu said on Monday.

The Governor said his administration’s financial commitment to Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is to make Lagos Africa’s foremost centre of innovation by harnessing local capabilities in developing tech solutions that would reduce the State’s reliance on foreign tech inventions.

Sanwo-Olu spoke while receiving the management team of Oracle Africa Group who came on a courtesy visit at the Lagos House in Alausa. The team was led by the Group’s Country Director, Mr. Adebayo Sanni.

The Governor said the recently approved seed capital of N250 million was particularly aimed at enhancing young people’s innovative skills and empowering them to be tech solutions providers as the world progresses in digitisation.

He said: “Technology has gotten to a stage where we all need it to leapfrog and enhance accuracy in governance. As a Government, we have always promoted technology to take the lead and be a strong enabler for us to deliver on our promises to the people.

“We are taking steps to further collaborate with partners that will strengthen our capacity to be big player in global tech space. We just concluded a two-day Art of Technology where we announced the establishment of innovation research council and N250 million seed capital to support young innovators locally.

“We are not looking at what is going to be our immediate benefit by this investment; rather we want to create a robust technology culture that will give young people opportunities to explore their innovative skills in bringing about tech solutions and applications we can use to advance our service delivery.”

Sanwo-Olu acknowledged the technical support offered by Oracle Group to stabilise processes in the State’s civil service and in promoting accountability in administrative process. The Governor, however, said the relationship between both parties must be consolidated to boost the capacity of the State Government and keep it abreast of the latest technological solutions developed to ease processes.

Sanni described the two-decade partnership between Lagos Government and Oracle Group as “mutually beneficial”, noting that Lagos is one of the IT firm’s success story in deploying technology solutions to improve governance.

He said: “Lagos State is one of the places we use as an example globally in terms of what we have done in helping governments transform their business using technology. Oracle wants to consolidate on this partnership and make commitment that will help Lagos State sustain its growth.”

Sanni assured the Governor that the IT firm was willing to review and build on its technical assistance to the State Government for improved service delivery, while also promising to boost the capacity of the current administration in using data to take predictive analysis of situations across the State.

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TAMBUWAL BEGINS DISTRIBUTION OF N4BN MICRO-BUSINESS INCENTIVE FUND TO SOKOTO SME OPERATORS

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The Sokoto State Governor Alhaji Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, has flagged off the disbursement of N4 billion micro business incentive fund for the state small and medium scale business operators.

The exercise, which will come in stages, will be sustained for the next four years, according to the governor.

Governor Tambuwal made the pronouncement at Balle and Tureta, in Gudu and Tureta local government areas respectively where the state’s Micro Business Incentive Fund (SMBIF) was flagged off.

Speaking at the centres, where N20, 000 grant each was distributed to 1000 persons, Tambuwal vowed that the fund will get to the remaining 21 local government areas in the state.

The governor informed that the gesture is aimed at assisting the less privileged persons and small scale entrepreneurs in the state, towards improving their businesses.

He explained that the distribution will not be discriminatory as both males and females will benefit from the programme in equal measure.

The governor urged the beneficiaries to use the money judiciously.

“This is just the beginning. As we have started here today, I assure you that it will surely get to the other remaining 21 local government areas. We will not discriminate in the disbursement and enjoin all beneficiaries to make judicious use of the grant for the good of self, family and society,” Tambuwal said.

In his remarks, the state’s Deputy Governor, Alhaji Manir Muhammad Dan Iya, said the beneficiaries were selected from all the 23 local government areas in the state as directed by the governor.

Alhaji Dan Iya thanked the governor for giving the cabinet members the opportunity to serve and execute various developmental projects across the 23 local government areas in the state.

Participants at the events were full of praises and thanked Governor Tambuwal for starting the scheme in their towns.

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